Indulge your Independence!
What a cake! I cannot take credit for this wonderful creation,we owe it all to the award winning young blogger Elissa Bernstein from her blog “17 and Baking”. I will give you the link to her site and the recipe below. I will also include a link to the video where she makes this cake on TV, and she was not only wonderful to see, but it also showed me how it was done, as the written instructions were a bit confusing for me. Once I watched it, I didn’t have to refer back to it, I got it.
As for actually making the cake recipe,well now that is another story. There is nothing wrong with the recipe, I am sure, I just have my own obstacles to deal with in my kitchen. The recipe is lightly lemon flavored and very delicious. The cream cheese frosting is heavenly and it comes together with great looks and taste. I am not sure that I would attempt this with a box mix, they tend to be very soft and you need it to be workable.
Okay, I am going to be brutally honest with you. The first time I attempted this, it bombed, and bombed in the worst way; not in taste, which was actually delicious despite it all. The recipe cannot be blamed, my kitchen is the culprit here. So how did it bomb? It was flat. Flat as a pancake. In fact, I have made pancakes higher than these cakes. It was also a bit rubbery, and maybe we could have had some fun bouncing it around the kitchen.
I actually expected that might happen, and made the first one as my test to see what I needed to do to make it right. I mentioned my obstacles, and there is just something not right about how things bake in my kitchen. I have exhausted all ideas. I have been baking for most of my life, (we’re talking a lot of years!) but since we moved here 4 years ago, something is different. The oven temperature is fine, the baking powder is always fresh as are all the other ingredients. I also know the chemistry of baking thanks to the internet and all my research.
I know, I know, some of you will tell me it is this or that, that there isn’t enough air so I need to mix more, or that I over-mixed, or that the chemistry is wrong, eggs too cold, flour old, did I use cake flour (yes, brand new boxes from different stores) or flour not sealed and got too much moisture, or that I should turn my head to the right 3 times and bark like a dog (just making sure you are paying attention), etc…but believe me over the last 4 years I have tried it ALL. It might be my oven, though it is a quality Jenn Air brand and is less than 8 years old. It might need a little maintenance, but for now, I will just take the challenge of making it work. It also could be my elevation, or that it is humid in my redwood forest, or that this 75 year old house is just plain weird. I have learned to compensate, and so with a new recipe like this I knew a trial had to be done.
My first attempt was flat, rubbery and dense. This cake has a heavy texture anyway and that is what I wanted because it is perfect for assembling this cake, but not to the degree of being so massively dense, that it might cause another Big Bang. The flat rubbery cake was far from perfect, but yet tasted great. So for this first trial, I just assembled the 3 flat layers and made a striped cake, and believe it or not my kids loved it.
Now, I was more determined than ever. I had to get this cake higher so I could cut them in half and make that darn flag if it killed me! Also the only day I could make my second attempt was actually on the 4th (hence my late post). I looked up m0re ideas online and here is what I tried differently:
- I added 2 extra egg whites
- I cranked up my oven 25 more degrees
- I used 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, taking away 1/4 t of baking powder. (This has to do with the chemistry and acid ratio)
- I beat the heck out of the butter, sugar and zest mixture, adding 2 more minutes to a total of 5.
- I whisked in some air into the dry ingredients for good measure.
- I didn’t beat in the food coloring with the mixer, I used a whisk.
Well it worked somewhat better the second time around. However, it was still not quite as high as I hoped, but it turned out fine. Success! It made the holiday fun and now we have a new tradition. In the recipe link I will provide for you, they took a cake recipe that made 2 layers, and then they adjusted the ingredients to make 3 layers. Next time I might just double the original recipe and try that. For all of you people with normal ovens and who don’t live in a 75 year old house in forest, this recipe should be fine as is. All in all it actually turned out perfectly fine as you can see.
However, when you are cutting the layers and leveling this cake, remember the texture of this cake is kind of different, don’t be alarmed if it looks strange after cutting and leveling. The frosting will hide all flaws. Cutting through the layers works best with a cake leveler, as Elissa shows us her dad was the inventor of it. For the circle in the middle, I used a bowl as a guide ensuring the inner circle would be bigger than the outer ring, you want that outer ring to be more narrow, and the inner ring to be wider. The assembly is easy if you watch the video, I promise!
There were lots of “oooohs and ahhhhs” and that was even before the fireworks display! It was an impressive and rewarding surprise.
First things first, here are the links I promised:
Elissa Bernstein’s Blog “17 and Baking”: http://17andbaking.com/2009/07/01/a-little-taste-of-independence/
Video of Elissa Bernstein making the cake on King5 TV in Seattle: (Definitely watch this before making!) http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/Get-Patriotic-with-17-and-Baking–97089114.html
Link to the cake (recipe from “My Home to Yours”) and cream cheese frosting (Recipe from “The Joy of Cooking” http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/recipes/Red-White–Blue-Cake-Recipe-97088344.html
Here are pictures of the process that took place in my 50+ year old pyrex bowls.
All ingredients prepared…Here we go.
Batter to cake in 30 minutes! I did not take photos of the cutting, I was a little busy (and determined!)
Here is the reward!
It really is a flag cake! Hooray!
Have fun! ~ Valerie